People raising fist with unfocused background in a pacifist protest against racism demanding justice
People raising fist with unfocused background in a pacifist protest against racism demanding justice
Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

The Perils of Declaring Racism a ‘Public Health Emergency’

Originally published at The Epoch Times

With COVID-19 apparently on the wane, the technocrats who eagerly seized upon the pandemic to justify hobbling American liberty now advocate declaring racism a “public health emergency.”

Such a policy would enable the governing class and our corporate overseers to deploy the same power tools in the fight against racism recently utilized to combat the virus, i.e., regulatory fiat, massive resource redirection, big tech censoring heterodox opinions—you get the drill.

The idea is quickly gaining ground. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently declared racism to be a “public health threat” because of the disproportionate impact that COVID had on minority communities. That is an issue certainly worthy of study and remediation. But many advocates want to go further.

An article recently published in The Hill exemplifies the advocacy. Action for Racial Equity CEO Tanisha M. Sullivan—make special note of that E-word—wrote, “Declaring racism a public health crisis positions us to confront racism as we would any other crisis for which we are seeking a solution: by studying its roots, tracking the data and developing science-based interventions that will result in its eradication.”

Well, no. Declaring a national health emergency would not root out racism, as that term has traditionally been understood as referring to equality. Rather, the point would be to make race-obsession an official governing norm, that is, to pursue “equity”—equality of group outcomes, a Utopian quest that in the real world can never be achieved. And therein lies the peril.

Don’t take my word for it. A recent advocacy column published in The Lancet—the world’s oldest medical journal that in recent years has gone full-bore woke—advocated that public health policy “move beyond a color-blind gender lens” and make “racial consciousness” an “omnipresent factor [my emphasis] influencing global health practice, research and outcomes.”

Similarly, last June, the American Academy of Family Physicians declared “It is time for the United States to officially recognize racism as a public health issue and declare a public health emergency to address the negative impacts racism is having on the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people.” One of the curatives the group advocates is “striving for health equity” (again, my emphasis).

Look. Every decent person opposes racism. Indeed, treating people in a discriminatory manner because of the color of their skin is profoundly wrong because it denies them the equal dignity and respect they are owed simply and merely because they are human.

But that is not what our would-be overlords are talking about. Rather, they want to pursue “anti-racism” as defined by author Ibram X. Kendi. Under Kendi’s definition, racism is found in just about everything. For example, in his book “How to be an Anti-Racist”—which is all the rage among the ruling elite—Kendi defines racism circularly as “a collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity that are substantiated by racist ideas”

Note the emphasis on “equity.” How does Kendi suggest remedying such an open-ended definition? Why, through invidious means: “The only remedy to racial discrimination is antiracist discrimination.” In other words, policies that treat us differently depending on ancestry.

It’s not just Kendi. The New England Journal of Medicine—which is as woke as The Lancet—published an advocacy piece in April specifically calling for racial discrimination in medicine.

“To promote equity”—there’s that word again—author Neil K. Aggarwal, MD. writes “the Biden administration should distribute [medical] resources differentially in order to [my emphasis] benefit groups that are persistently disadvantaged.”

Not only that, but the concept of “health” would be expanded to include “disparities of mutually reinforcing systems in the housing, education, employment, economic, health care, and criminal-justice sectors.” In other words, the declared emergency would both discriminate against those considered privileged and expand the reach of “health policy” into just about everything.

Declaring racism to be a public health emergency would also inflate the concept’s meaning well beyond issues involving actual medical wellbeing. Under the law, a public health emergency exists when, “a disease or disorder presents a public health emergency…including significant outbreaks of infectious diseases or bioterrorist attacks.”

Racism is evil, but it is not “infectious” nor a medically identifiable “disease or “disorder.” It is a cultural affliction. Moreover, if racism can be declared a public health emergency, so can just about any issue about which the technocratic class would rather rule than govern (think global warming). But then, that may be part of the point.

Ironically, the equity agenda often leads to ludicrous policies. Take legislation just passed in Oregon suspending tests of high school students to ensure that graduates learned the “essential skills” required to function in society, defined by the Oregon Department of Education, as the ability to “read and comprehend a variety of texts, write clearly and accurately, and apply mathematics in a variety of settings.”

Why adopt such a ridiculously harmful law? According to the statute, in order to study “whether the requirements for high school diplomas in this state have been applied inequitably to different student populations.” This means that in the name of equity, some Oregon students may graduate high school without knowing how to read or balance a checkbook. Now, imagine such idiotic policies implemented on a national scale and the risk of declaring racism a national health emergency becomes all too clear!

How surrealistic could this get? African American’s successes could even be twisted into evidence of racism. That includes the election of Barack Obama as president, which Kendi just opined in The Atlantic, wasn’t anti-racist because “this was the moment when the American people created the original postracial project that is bearing down on Americans yet again, like a knife over a nation’s heart.” Good grief!

Look. It wasn’t “equity” that crushed the systemically racist policies known as Jim Crow and broke the terrorist grip of the Ku Klux Klan. It was the Civil Rights Movement’s righteous invocation of equality.

That’s the American creed! That’s the way of unity. That’s the road that will finally lead us to Martin Luther King’s, “promised land.”

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.